1 Thess 1:3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. NIV
People often ask the question, “What is the evidence of a person who is saved?” Many times it is because they have a friend or loved one who claims to be a Christian, but lives a life that looks very contrary to that. Though Jesus taught us to not judge whether or not a person is saved (Lk 6:37-7-5, Jn 8:15)), we can judge whether or not they are bearing good fruit in their life. Ultimately, we are encouraged by Jesus to be more concerned about the evidence of salvation in our own life, before we concern ourselves about what we see in others lives.
That being said, Paul is commending the believers in Thessalonica, based upon the evidence he sees of Christ’s redemptive work in their lives. He cites three pieces of that evidence, that we should see in ourselves as well as everyone who believes in Him.
First he mentions, “Your work produced by faith.” Paul is referring here not to some act of service, but rather that in faith, they turned from the idols they worshipped to the true and living God (v9). This should be demonstrated in our lives as well. We may not have been serving idols in the way these people did, but we still serve them. Need an example? What are our modern day idols? Money or material goods, power, fame. How do we know they are idols? Ask yourself, how much of a priority are they in your life? How much time do you spend in acquiring them? How important are they to you and could you do without them?
We can even make other people our idols. There are the obvious ones, such as celebrities or sports figures, but sometimes it is not as obvious. We can even worship a son or daughter, mother or father. They can become our idol.
When we come to Christ, He should become the number one priority of our life. We turn to Him in faith, surrendering our will to His and no longer worship anything else. This is what Paul saw in the Thessalonians. It was strong evidence that they were Christians.
Next, Paul mentions their labor prompted by love. This love (agape in Greek), is the kind of love that puts other people’s needs above our own and is demonstrated by action. The word labor literally means “toil,” and by implication includes pain. This labor, produced by love may not always be easy, yet it becomes a joy to the believer in Christ because of the love the Holy Spirit puts in one’s heart.
A third evidence of their faith in Christ is endurance. Paul says that the Thessalonians endurance was inspired by “hope” in Jesus Christ. What he is speaking of here, is that despite severe suffering (v6), they would persevere because of their expectation of spending eternity with their Lord. We should exhibit this same perseverance or patience in times of suffering, knowing that either by physical death or by the Lord’s return, we will spend eternity with Him. That is why Paul could say, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Rom 8:18
Are you looking for evidence of your own salvation, wondering if you are really born again? These are three things that should be demonstrated in your life. Are you worried about where a friend might truly be in their relationship with Christ? Look for evidence of their turning from idols to worshipping Him. See if there is a heart to serve others. Find out if they have hope in suffering or despair. If none of those things are there, do not judge the heart but encourage them to look at their own life.
Urge them to look at these verses, so that they may judge themselves as to whether or not they have truly been “born again.” They might even take offense, but better to be offended than spend eternity without Christ because no one loved them enough to speak up.
Remember, all of this comes by way of faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. That is whom we worship, that is whom we serve!
God bless you